Ben Baier has been named the new Blue Springs South head baseball coach
Mark Bubalo and the administration at Blue Springs South High School didn’t have to look far for a new head baseball coach.
The guy who’s been sitting next to former head coach Richard Wood the past 10 years, varsity assistant Ben Baier, was named the new head coach Wednesday afternoon.
“We feel like Ben has earned his shot at the varsity head coaching position, since he’s been a valuable member of Richard Wood’s staff the past 10 years,” said Bubalo, South’s activities director. “He has a great knowledge of the game and has really built a strong relationship with the kids. I think that Richard and Ben have really complemented each other the past 10 years.”
Junior varsity coach Andy Mayfield, a former standout baseball player at Blue Springs High School and the University of Central Missouri, will move up and take Baier’s former job as varsity assistant. Bubalo said there is a search for a new junior varsity coach underway.
“I’m excited, very excited,” said Baier, who played baseball at Raymore-Peculiar High School and Rockhurst University. “I learned from the best the past 10 years and I want to thank South for the opportunity to realize my dream job.”
Perhaps the only person more excited than Baier is Wood, who was the only head baseball coach in South history.
“Ben really earned it,” Wood said. “It’s nice to see someone who has worked so long for so many years get rewarded. We’ve been pretty successful and he’s been a big, big part of it.
“I don’t know what our record was before he came 10 years ago, but he’s been a major part of our recent success. He will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the program.”
Baier joined Wood’s staff as a volunteer junior varsity assistant right out of college.
“I got hurt at Rockhurst and was an assistant coach there my last two years of college,” Baier said. “I was so thankful to get the opportunity to coach at South. After one year as a volunteer I got to be Richard’s assistant the next year and it’s been a great ride.”
The Jaguars just wrapped up the most successful season in school history, finishing 23-4 and nearly making it to the Final Four in Wood’s final season.
“I was talking to Richard the other day,” Baier said, “and I asked him how long it would take before that (7-2 season-ending) loss to Oak Park wasn’t the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night.”
While the Jaguars lose Division I players Jeff Lusardi (Arizona State University) and Riley Reynolds (Vanderbilt) and all-time winningest pitcher Kellen Bartlett (who will play Division I football at Utah State) to graduation, they return a solid nucleus of players from this year’s team.
Blaine Dalton, Derek Cox, Austin Rodriguez, Stuart Pudenz, Chanze Mason, Danny McMurtrey and Logan Moon will be back in 2009.
“Blaine, Austin and Logan will give us a solid outfield; Stuart can catch and pitch and Danny will be a good infielder,” Baier said. “And Austin and Derek did a great job pitching last season.
“I’m excited about the team and I’m excited about working with Andy Mayfield. I have so much respect for Andy and his dad (Brad, who retired last year with the state championship Blue Springs High School baseball team). It’s going to be great working with a guy like Andy, who knows the game inside and out.”